Interview - The Cribs: Depression, survival, Johnny Marr and Yorkshire
“When we first started, we did it to get out of Wakefield, so to go all that way and hear people shouting it back at you does seem bizarre”
The Cribs are three Wakefield brothers who have always lived by their own rules. They’ve pre-dated and survived all of the fads that guitar music has seen come and go in recent years and have never relented. They’re proud, fierce and not going anywhere – in short: they’re Yorkshire through and though.
“Being from Wakefield is inherent to our DNA,” says Ross. “It’s the working class attitude - we’re happy to get out there and graft.”
“We all worked in factories when we were younger, that’s probably a big reason why we work so hard and is definitely a massive part of how we are now.”
And the Jarman brothers have had a lot to work though. During the making of their latest album, In The Belly of the Brazen Bull, they had to tackle a number of demons.
Whilst lead singer Ryan was dealing with his own personal demons, the band also had to move on from the departure of stray legendary guitarist Johnny Marr – once the iconic axe-master with the Smiths.
“Losing Johnny was like breaking up with a girlfriend,” admits Ross. “Originally, we always said that we’d never have anyone else in the band. We were only ever interested in being a three-piece. Then one time, I think Ryan made a joke in an interview ages ago where he said ‘ah, I think we’d let Johnny Marr in’. Eventually it came up, and to work with someone who we have so much respect for when growing up, you know - you just turn opportunities like that down. That was a great time for the band, but after we finished that campaign we all went in separate directions and I think that me, Gary and Ryan all just started writing together as a three-piece, just naturally. It became exciting again. It just felt so new again to go back to the three of us, and the reaction that we got from people was quite positive and it spurred us on to write more.”
As well as losing musical ‘girlfriend’ Johnny Marr, frontman Ryan was thrown into turmoil after splitting up with partner and indie-pop songstress Kate Nash. He turned to the support of his brothers, and the band conquered adversity to see in 2012 with a fresh and positive fighting attitude – as well as one of their best albums to date.
Ross went on: “It’s been a difficult time for all of us over the last 12 months. There are definitely some darker songs on the record, and it hasn’t been an easy one to make. I’m sure that tension has come through in some ways.”
“It pulled us three together and we are closer than ever as brothers,” he says. “People keep asking what it’s like for three brothers to be in a band together, but for some reason we just get on surprisingly well and know which buttons we should and shouldn’t press. We’re tighter now and I don’t think we’d think about taking on another full-time player any more.”
Ross adds: “This is how it’s meant to be.”
It’s a great time for the band to be so comfortable in their own skin. The current musical climate sees guitar music in a difficult state. Most struggle to chart or get noticed, with many former giants of the previous decade thrown on the scrapheap. So what’s the secret to The Cribs’ success?
“We pre-dated a lot of that stuff and we saw what was going on,” remembers Ross.
“We saw bands enjoying this wave of a craze and we just tried to keep out of that and not align ourselves with that - it isn’t really what we’re about. Me, Gary and Ryan just find ourselves in this little bubble. A lot of people might have tarred us with the same brush and seen those bands as our peers but it wasn’t like that at all. I think it’s due to coming from Yorkshire - we don’t get swept up and we just keep things realistic. We don’t want to try and keep up with the Jones’ or whatever.”
Ross continues: “We definitely feel lucky to have done it, but we’ve done things differently and taken a lot of different channels to other bands. We didn’t expect to be going for so long, but because we’re quite happy to be doing things on quite a DIY level where a lot of other bands won’t. We’re still happy to get back and tour in the back of a van if we need to.”
“We’re just cut from a different bit of cloth.”
So surely The Cribs can’t lose? The only competition is themselves.
The Cribs new album In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is out on Monday 7th April.
The band also play Rock City, Nottingham on Monday 7th April. For tickets visit www.alt-tickets.co.uk